Colt… Colt? Oh, Colt! You mean the band to have emerged from the demise of the splendidly morbid Living With Eating Disorders? The band who signed off with a “gallery rock” event, encompassing photography, film, music and sculpture? You know, the controversial, short-lived outfit with the self-harming lead singer? Yeah, that’s the one.
To be honest, not a great deal has changed: Jared Hawkes and Mark Bishop still lay down brooding tracks over which the tortured Andrea Kerr flecks her blood-red lyrics. Although the Living With Eating Disorders phase was discarded in part because of Kerr’s growing self-harm tendencies, Colt are by no means joyous or repentant – this is some dark, paranoid stuff. No Silver Jews, that’s for sure.
Opener Never Know sets the stall with its atmospheric drone, murmuring drum loop and the pained refrain; “There is no love here”. Splendid. The angst ante is soon upped with the aggrieved I Abort – a song as mirthful as the title suggests. “I abort!” screams Kerr, over and over, as the ambience makes way for crescendo. Unbearable for some, I’m sure, but challenging to others.
It certainly seems that Colt have taken their lead from Portishead at their peak, squeezing their distinctive principles through a homemade filter of pain, suffering, anxiety and regret. Whereas Beth Gibbons and co occasionally turned the sinister dial down to zero, however, Colt have very much overlooked the assets of light and shade: These Things Can’t Hurt sounds to me like it is either soft negativity or loud negativity. But mostly soft.
Then again, who am I to judge? I’m sure Kerr’s cabin fever is for a very good reason, whatever that may be. Indeed, pinnacles are reached on occasion, such as the overdriven climax to Demon In The Wheels, the riot grrrl goodness apparent on I Talk To God and Death & Sequins’ status as a dynamic, dramatic final chapter.
They’re not likely to appear on Top Of The Pops any time soon, and, as an extra bonus, their music is guaranteed to cause concern any for well-to-do parents who hear it emanating from the dark recesses of their child’s bedroom. That aside, this is a difficult LP; one whose rewards, I imagine, are only forthcoming after a great deal of persistent listening. Non-Kerr types, I fear, will never get that far.